When I crossed the finish line at the Anglesey Marathon in 2007, it meant I had completed 50% of the marathons I had started.
Earlier in the year I had collapsed in the London Marathon at Mile 17, which totally messed up my “completion rate” from the very start. All in all, it wasn’t a great debut and there’s more on my blog about the lessons I learnt that day.
But fast forward a few months and I was delighted with getting to that 50% figure. I was just so relieved to have got round and earned the medal.
I had been really nervous about Anglesey and had hardly told anyone I was going to do it. This was a big change from telling everyone that I was doing London and the lack of fuss really took the pressure off.
When I finished that first one, I really thought I was done with marathons. The medal was in the drawer and I had a foil blanket to keep (I had always been fascinated by those as a child when watching the marathon on the TV!).
The following year, I was still happy with that and 2008 sped on by, but then I remember watching something on TV at New Year in January 2009.
It was on the BBC and it was a montage previewing all the events they were going to be showing that year….and the London Marathon was part of it.
As soon as I saw Tower Bridge and the music started, I felt a shiver and knew that I needed to do it as soon as possible. I had a marathon medal, but I also had unfinished business with London.
I went for a run that day and then, as I work at Cancer Research UK, I contacted our Sports Team a few weeks later to apply for a Golden Bond place for 2010.
And I thought well...if I am going to do that fundraising and that training I may as well sign up to New York later that year too.
I can't quite remember all the logic behind that, but it was one of the best decisions and one of the best experiences of my life!
Since then, I have just kept going and I love it. There is something about choosing races and visiting new places that just works for me.
I like training with an event in mind and find it so easy to lapse if the diary is empty.
That said, I can also lapse when the diary is full, but that is also about just balancing life and work.
I will confess that I am not the most dedicated trainer at times. I love a Parkrun, I love a weekly game of five-a-side and I love a long weekend run when I can, so training is a bit of a mix, but it keeps me active and I do build it up properly as the events get closer.
One day I am sure I will have more time to follow training plans properly (a familiar pledge to many, I suspect), but for now I am happy with signing up for things (and usually new things that I haven’t done before), and not worrying too much about times on the day.
It has taken me to Barcelona, Berlin, Brighton, Paris, Rome and back to London again and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.
Whenever I finish a race, the failure of that first attempt definitely makes me savour that moment even more – and I think anyone who has had a DNF will know what I mean.
And that completion rate? It may seem like a very silly thing to dwell on or even to mention, but it really has kept motivating me over the years to keep improving it.
I don’t know if other runners have similar stats that play on their mind, but each marathon has upped it a bit more and that has been very pleasing indeed.
I think it is my way of claiming back control after that first bad experience and getting my own back on the marathon distance.
Currently my completion rate is at 90% and hopefully soon it will be at 90.9%. I will keep you posted...but I am still never sure about calling myself a proper runner.
Thanks to Tom for his blog and we can relate to a DNF which isn't a nice feeling!
You can follow Tom on his Mile17 where he shares his experience of running and anything related from an ordinary runner’s perspective so please go and check it out.
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